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2014 is now McLaren's priority

ESPN Staff
June 30, 2013 « Di Resta sent to the back of the grid | Tyre failures a new problem - Pirelli »
The front end of the unloved McLaren MP4-28 has been causing problems © Sutton Images
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McLaren is piling its resources towards 2014 as the team struggles to overcome the fundamental flaws in its 2013 design.

Both drivers failed to qualify in the top ten for the second grand prix in a row on Saturday despite continuous series updates coming to the car. After qualifying at Silverstone, team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted 2014 was now taking precedence back at the factory as the team looks to gain an advantage over its rivals under the major regulation changes next year.

"We are now, earlier than usual, putting a lot more effort and resource onto next year's programme, which we need to do because we have a whole new raft of regulations and we've got to be realistic about what is achievable," he said. "Those of us that come racing are still racers, so there is no give up in the race team and we will do everything we can to understand the car and make it quicker and make it better and then race as well as we can.

"We will be pushing hard but I think we've got to be realistic in terms of what our priorities are. We've got a big few years ahead of us, 2014 is a challenge for everyone and that makes it an opportunity and we have many more resources applied to that than we normally do.

"We're strengthening the team and we're recruiting quite strongly into the technical organisation and that's to meet the challenge not only of 2014 but also the exciting challenge of 2015 [when Honda replaces Mercedes as engine supplier]. We've got to race as hard as we can and we've got to take what is up for grabs, but we have to absolutely be determined that next year we are in a competitive situation and build upon that in 2015 and beyond as we enter a new and exciting phase for the team."

Whitmarsh said the team has been struggling to get on top of the problems with the MP4-28.

"In truth we've struggled more than a bit, we are struggling a lot. We are lacking downforce and as I've said before, I think we took some wrong paths in the winter and I think we are behind in the development cycle. We have had a lot of wet Fridays and that hasn't helped, although so has everyone else, but in the position we're in we're trying to understand.

"For the two drivers it has been particularly difficult because they have a broad range of things to try and do and it doesn't help them in preparing for the weekend. We come out of each session with the car not responding as clearly and cleanly as we would want. Every now and again there is a glimmer of hope and performance but I think that makes it difficult for the drivers and the engineering team to really make the progress that we want."

Whitmarsh said the decision to switch to a pull-rod front suspension layout had been particularly costly for the team this year.

"It's primarily the front," he said. "The suspension systems front and rear are quite different. The front suspension connects and holds the wheels on the car, as you know, but it is also right in the wake and wake management of the front wing and that's had quite a big influence on what we are doing and that knocked on to a whole development path that I think at one stage was quite wrong."